Barbry Allen from Andy Lowe, featuring Aaron Ramsey

North Carolina banjo man Andy Lowe has a new single with Mountain Fever Records, a new version of the ancient murder ballad, Barbry Allen.

Lowe spares us the more than a dozen verses that the song has had over the past 350 years since the song was first published, with musicologists suggesting that it goes back much further still. With only five verses, Andy turns out a concise arrangement, perfect for the punchy, bluesy style he plays.

He is supported by Jacob Burleson on guitar, Jeff Partin on bass, and Aaron Ramsey on mandolin and vocal.

Andy described how this track came into existence.

“This updated cut of Barbry Allen started off a bit different. It was the only song for my album where I hadn’t already laid out a clear vision for it by the time we got in the studio. All I knew was that it would fit Aaron’s vocals to a tee; with a little urging and some shameless begging, he agreed to sing it.
I’ve heard several versions of Barbry Allen over the years, and always loved to hear it done in the Irish ballad/folksy style. But I had zero clue what to do for my own cut. So, we (Aaron, Jeff, Jacob, and I) went back to basics: we sat in a circle with a guitar, trying to come up with a chord progression and melody, and narrowing the verses down into a manageable length without sacrificing the story.
And as we sat there exchanging ideas, the song took a turn into a more brooding sound because, let’s face it, this isn’t the most heartwarming subject matter. The slower, grittier arrangement was finalized, and we went right into our recording booths and cut it on the second take. No click-track, no charts, just a groove. We were all pleasantly surprised with the final product. As predicted, Aaron sang the absolute fire out of this one, and now Barbry Allen has been raised from the dead with new life.

Have a listen!!”

Barbry Allen is available now from popular download and streaming services online, and to radio programmers via AirPlay Direct.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.